I was recently at a presentation/discussion on how technology is changing how we work and that some jobs will in the near future be redundant due to automation. Included in the list of jobs and professions under threat include accountants, marketeers, warehouse and distribution staff.
This got me thinking about this in the context of the turf bog. In the bogland we operate from we are the only folk left cutting turf with a spade. Over the last 50 years, the turf cutting machine pulled behind a tractor has displaced the age old spade cutting process. One person driving a tractor with mechanical turf cutter attached can cut a seasons turf in a fraction of the time it would take a person armed only with a spade.
Likewise getting the turf extracted from the bog and home has moved on from the donkey and cart. Tractors, quads and 4x4s have revolutionised this stage of the process.
That said, the cutting and transporting of the turf are only two aspect of the overall turf havesting process. To the best of my knowledge, there is no machine yet that has been developed and widely available to turn turf sods, foot them, clamp them and finally bag them. These are all labour intensive and back breaking tasks. It is also a childhood memory for a lot of Irish folk and not always fondly recalled!
Maybe in the future a Terminator-esque cyborg will displace the McAndrew Clan and other turf bog traditionalists. A Terminator will definatley be immune to the midgies but I am not so sure that their circuit boards will handle the damp landscape and climate so well.
So the next time you burn some of our turf, you can rest assured that it still has had the human touch all the way from the turf bog to your fireside.